There are two ways to appease the search engine gods: With content, and with a well-functioning website. These two types of search engine optimization (SEO), though, are not created equally. We’ve been saying it between the lines for years, now: Exceptional content will always trump even the most technically proficient website.
Finally, Google has openly admitted it.
A Refresher: Content and Technical SEO
Search engines look for websites and webpages that are relevant and important for any given search query. Faced with such a monumental task, they create algorithms to do it automatically. Those algorithms weigh numerous factors about a website to gauge whether it is relevant and important for a query. Some of these factors have to do with the content on the website, while others deal with how the website works.
Examples of content-based factors include:
- Whether, and how often, the words used in the search query appear on the webpage
- How many other websites link to the webpage
- The webpage’s metrics, like bounce rate and time spent on page, for visitors that came from similar search queries
Meanwhile, examples of website performance factors include:
- The webpage’s upload speed
- Whether the webpage is mobile-friendly, especially if the query is being done on a mobile device
An important question has become how important the technical aspects of a website are, especially when compared to the factors that focus on its content.
Google: Technical SEO, Alone, Is Never Enough
In a recent Google Webmaster Hangout Session, Google’s John Mueller fielded a question by a site owner who was confused by his site’s poor rankings. According to the site owner, “we’re providing fast performance in mobile and great [user experience],” but the rankings were still poor.
He wanted to know, in essence… What gives?
John Mueller, the Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, reminded him that, in the grand scheme of search engine marketing, technical SEO was not enough to score good rankings on its own.
“If your website contains lots of terrible content then it still won’t rank that high,” Mueller stated, even if it is technically flawless.
Legal Blogging, and Pigs With Lipstick
Where does that content come from? Your legal blogging efforts, of course. Filling your law firm’s website with the kinds of content that readers like to read and that they find useful is what search engine and inbound content marketing is all about. The medium for that content can be a well-maintained blog, landing pages, or the static pages that are increasingly replacing evergreen posts.
This is not to say that technical SEO is meaningless. It’s just that perfecting your website’s performance while ignoring the content that it hosts is kind of like putting lipstick on a pig. You can put all the lipstick you want on it, and you can spend hours making it look just right, but it’s still going to be ugly because it will always be a pig.